Monday, September 12, 2016

The Road Less Birded

It had been quite a while since I last saw postings of bird pictures taken from Mt. Palay-palay. That seemed strange because this place is one of the birding spots close to MetroManila. Perhaps these days birders were being drawn to the "more productive" sites such as Subic, IRRI, and recently, Bangkong Kahoy Valley.

When friends Peter and Wenxing suggested that we try Mt. Palay-palay on Saturday, I hastily agreed. This is basically roadside birding stretching from Ternate going up to the Caylabne Resort. We've had good experiences here before so we hoped that we would be seeing multitudes of bird species. Thus began our trip to the road less birded.

Our first encounter was the endemic Philippine Falconet - one of the world's smallest raptors. Lots of them! At one point there were 7 birds perched in a single tree! A bit far but who's complaining.

After the falconets, birds were as scarce as snowflakes in the Sahara. We just saw one (!) Luzon Hornbill and even failed to take a photo because it was too high in a tree and didn't even stay long for a photo-op! The Brahminy Kites were there alright but they were soaring so high up. 

On our way back I was lucky enough to photograph one perched on a tree across the road.

The only other birds of note were the swallows/woodswallows.

Pacific Swallow
White-breasted Woodswallow
While Peter and Wenxing were "kiting" (taking pictures of the Brahminy Kites) a small flock of Striated Swallows perched on the electric wire above where Cynthia and I were taking refuge from the scorching sun. The swallows were taking turns flying off then returning to their perches. My wife and I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice our BIF (birds in flight) shots. Once again, I was outshot by my better half and thereby living up to that description.

We got photos of the Coppersmith Barbet, the Coleto and the Stripe-headed Rhabdornis. However, the shots were only of "documentary" quality because these birds were all perched at quite a distance from us.

As we prepared to go home, I took some photos of the Long-tailed Macaques roaming the area. Somehow the look on the face of one of them reflected the mood we were in.

Leaving Mt. Palay-palay it became clear to me why this 17 kilometer stretch had become the road less birded.

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